Ask Margot-I’m sick of his emails!

Her online suitor is quizzing her about her faith online—and she’s had it. Here, an easy way to correct it!

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I’ve been emailing with a man for a couple of weeks. At first, our messages were the typical “getting to know you” stuff. But as it became clear we were both interested, he’s changed. Now each message contains some kind of moral test, question or issue related
Email is a great way to get to know someone—sort of.
to our faith that he wants me to respond to. It’s like I have to pass a test to be worthy of a date with him. I do like him, though. What should I do?
– Getting Testy

Dear Testy,
Do you want the good news or the bad news? The good news is you’re not alone. This happens often in email relationships and there’s an easy way to correct it. How do I know? Because it’s happened to me, too! The bad news? Well, unless you inadvertently enrolled in an online divinity school, this kind of catechism doesn’t bode well for a fun relationship.

If you’re still with me after that first paragraph, let’s talk a minute about why this might be happening and what you can do about it. Email is a great way to get to know someone—sort of. The best thing about it is safety. Most of us feel just fine about passing a few words back and forth by computer because we can hold back as much of ourselves as we like. We don’t even have to give out our real names if we don’t want to. But live by the inbox, die by the inbox.

After a few exchanges, sometimes things change. Why? Because we’re getting to know each other backwards. Once the initial sparks fly on email, we yearn for them to continue flying. That’s what it’s like sometimes when virtual relationships stay virtual too long. We’re attracted to someone’s writing and now we want to get know them—for real. So we start to ask questions about things that we’d probably allow to unfold much more naturally if we were seeing each other face to
There’s only one way to know a person’s true colors for sure…
face once or twice a week. (That’s why I think you should move from emailing to first meeting pretty quickly.)

Take personal conduct, for example. Most of us want to date someone who’s honest. But how do you gauge honesty over email? Ask tough questions. See how potential dates react to challenging statements. See if they can keep their cool while keeping their story consistent across thousands of words that might span several weeks.

Best-case scenario, your guy likes you as much as you like him but is just trying to learn the right things the wrong way. How will you know for sure? Get out of e-life and into real life. I just happen to have a simple rule for how to do that: Exchange three emails, one phone call and then agree to meet. That’s right, exchange three emails max, chat on the phone and then make the decision to meet or not.

Who knows? Once you meet, your guy might start acting like a human being again instead of a game show contestant on Bible Jeopardy. And if he doesn’t, you won’t have to wait around until Final Jeopardy to find out he’s a loser.

Truth is, nobody likes to be grilled, even on subjects they know by heart. Still, let’s give this dude the benefit of the doubt and think the best of him until he proves otherwise. I’d like to think that this guy’s recent change in behavior is just an indication of how much he likes you and how seriously he takes the process of getting to know someone.

If that’s true, things will go much better for both of you once you switch from computers to coffee shops. If you meet and he’s still giving you the third degree, all you’ve wasted is a cup o’ joe and 30 minutes of your time.

The virtual world is a great place to meet someone new, but there’s only one way to know a person’s true colors for sure…and it doesn’t involve email.

Freelance writer Margot Carmichael Lester met and married the last guy she met online. Send your faith-based dating questions to her at
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